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Business school doesn't want public funds

UCLA's Anderson School of Management.


Kai Ryssdal: Alright, how bad is the budget situation out here in California? It is so bad that a top-notch MBA program just wants out. After years of seeing its budget being cuts, the Anderson School of Management at UCLA wants to take a shot at giving up taxpayer money altogether. A model, perhaps for other public universities in financially troubled places?

From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Amy Scott reports.

Amy Scott: It's not every day a school turns down $18 million. But that's the state funding UCLA's Anderson School would rather do without. Saying no to that money would create a near 20-percent gap in the school's budget. The school's dean Judy Olian has proposed making that up with private donations and tuition increases. She says the school would have a more stable, predictable budget. The university would get to put the money it used to give Anderson toward other programs.

Judy Olian: Of course, we would much prefer to stay state-supported, but given the problems associated with state financing and the benefits to the university from this model by redirecting the funds, we think this could be a win-win for all.

The president of the University of California system still has to approve the plan. If he does, Olian says the Anderson School would stay part of that system, with its public mission and a curriculum approved by the academic senate.

Olian: What will not change is our affiliation with the university. What will be seen by the people from the outside-in, it will look and quack exactly like the UCLA Anderson of old.

And there is at least one precedent. The University of Virginia's Darden School of Business opted out of public funding several years ago. Peter McPherson is president of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. He says most state-funded programs couldn't afford to give up the money.

Peter McPherson: Even if the total money given isn't a large part of the whole budget, it's usually just critical money that can't be made up by donations or other sources.

The Anderson School already gets more than 80 percent of its revenue from other sources, like private donors and tuition -- and tuition will go up if this plan is approved. It's already $41,000 a year for California residents.

I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.


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